“Culture cramming” doesn’t turn children into academic superstars, according to a long term U.S. Education Department study. For example, well-educated parents’ children tend to read well, even if Mom and Dad don’t read frequently to the tykes. USA Today summarizes what factors matter and or don’t:
Matters: The child has highly educated parents.
Doesn’t: The child regularly watches TV at home.
Matters: The child’s parents have high income.
Doesn’t: The child’s mother didn’t work between birth and kindergarten.
Matters: The child’s parents speak English in the home.
Doesn’t: The child’s parents regularly take him to museums.
Matters: The child’s mother was 30 or older at time of the child’s birth.
Doesn’t: The child attended Head Start.
What parents do (museum visits) or buy (home computer) doesn’t seem to matter; what parents are does matter.
How can it be that a child with a lot of books in her home does well at school even if she never reads them? Because parents who buy a lot of children’s books tend to be smart and well-educated to begin with, and they pass on their smarts and work ethic to their kids. (This theory is supported by the fact that the number of books in a home is just as strongly correlated with math scores as reading scores.) Or the books may suggest that these are parents who care a great deal about education and about their children in general, which results in an environment that rewards learning . . . A book is, in fact, less a cause of intelligence than an indicator.
But take the kids to the museum anyhow.
Read Jenny D’s analysis of the story.